Despite COVID-19 severely altering celebrations for their high school graduation, Grade 12 Glenlyon Norfolk School students Charlotte Brady and Jessica Soule have plenty of reasons to smile.
The two were recently awarded the highly competitive TD Scholarship for Community Leadership – a prestigious award recognizing students who excel in the classroom, but more importantly, who go above and beyond in making an impact in their communities.
“I started crying,” said Brady.
“I was shocked. I was actually just waking up from a nap and I thought I was dreaming,” said Soule.
“I have worked primarily with mental health and harm reduction, so educating youth about the opioid crisis, mental health and how you can use harm reduction mechanisms in everyday life.”
Brady meanwhile, who works part time at a Victoria pet store, has dedicated countless hours over the past five years volunteering with environmental groups and also raising awareness for LGBTQIA youth. Both Soule and Brady are two of just 20 Canadian students who will receive $70,000 dollars in funds, going towards their studies and living costs, while also joining an exclusive networking group of TD scholarship recipients which they say is priceless.
“I never thought that I would be able to achieve something like this,” said 17-year-old Brady.
“Having a scholarship that was based on my merit for leadership that I’ve done in my community just because I really wanted to make that impact, and being awarded that amount of money to continue to do that leadership made me really feel I can put something towards my education that I actually deserved and that was an incredible feeling,” added Brady.
“It means that I can really pursue my dreams without worrying that I’m going to have to take out a bunch of student loans,” said Soule.
Soule says she’s undecided on where she’ll attend post secondary school next year, but she aims for a career in international relations and public health with a dream of working for the United Nations. Brady, on the other hand, has everything mapped out to a T.
“I plan to go to the University of Toronto and major in ethics, society and law, with an undergraduate in international relations and political science to hopefully become a political journalist for the first few years, before I make enough money to pursue criminal law and become a criminal defense lawyer as my final career,” said Brady.
Regardless of the paths they take, Charlotte Brady and Jessica Soule represent two teenage difference makers with bright futures ahead.
“Having TD recognize the passion I have in making the world a better place is really an honor,” said Soule.
“This was just an incredible opportunity and it meant so much to me that i’d been chosen,” said Brady.